Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria the Nusra Front and its allies on Saturday overran large parts of the northwestern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour for the first time in the four year conflict, Reuters reports.
Syrian activists said that after days of heavy fighting, fighters had pushed inside the town which lies strategically on a road between the coastal city of Latakia and Syria's second largest city of Aleppo.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 60 government troops were killed in the battle.
Meanwhile Syrian state television claimed that the army was engaged in "fierce battles in Jisr al-Shughour."
Regime forces captured the town of Jisr al-Shughour in June 2011 after what the government described as armed gangs supposedly killed more than 120 security personnel during demonstrations in the town
In 1980, a rebellion in Jisr al-Shughour, a town of only 50,000, against President Hafez Assad, Bashar's father, was crushed with scores of deaths.
At the end of March, Sunni Islamist groups seized the city of Idlib, the capital of the province of Idlib, after forming an alliance which includes Nusra, the hardline Ahrar al-Sham movement and Jund al-Aqsa, but not Daesh, their rival.
The Islamist alliance calls itself Army of Fatah, a reference to the seventh-century Islamic conquests that spread the religion throughout the Middle East.
Following their seizure of Idlib, the alliance continued their assault to capture the few towns and villages which remained under the government forces in the province.
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